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August 19, 2022 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
FRIDAY NOON STUDY GROUP JUNE 9 12-1
Last week, our study of God is a Verb began with a consideration of a question posed at the end of our previous session: “Is Evil Necessary?” Many of us were not entirely comfortable with the Kabbalistic notion that evil fulfills a primary function in creation, that if you kill the evil inclination “the world will be destroyed because there will no longer be a desire to procreate” (Yoma 69b) or engage in business, and that we must seek out the divine spark inherent in evil and attempt to uplift it.
We moved on from this eternal conundrum and began to discuss the opening chapter of Part 3 of Cooper’s text, “Higher Awareness.” Some highlights from that discussion include:
Our agreement not to take mystical conceptions of a chariot (Merkevah) carrying us off to the throne of God too literally, even though this concept has its origin in the Haftarah from the Book of Ezekiel chanted last week on Shavuot.
On the other hand, our group seemed to accept Cooper’s notion that we are all afflicted with what he calls a “Time Deficiency Syndrome” that has created a distorted sense of priorities. This malady, which Cooper identifies as a form of spiritual malnutrition, is caused by our desire for more acquisitions and/or power and control.
No one seemed to disagree with Cooper that we needed to find ways to make time to develop a true awareness of things that really mattered, to make our inner lights brighter, and to connect with the Divine. That is, at least for most of us in the group, if we considered the Divine to be something other than an anthropomorphized God but rather a creative source of energy, a force dedicated to making the world a better place.
We also were receptive to Cooper’s idea that we need to develop methods of attaining higher awareness by immersing ourselves in meaningful activities, engaging in contemplative meditation, and developing our kavanah (intention/purpose) to ensure that it does not devolve into rote behavior. We also agreed that such consciousness-raising activity (which often involves ways of deflecting distractions to focus on the here and now) is a way of mending the world (tikkun olam) and mending our souls (tikkun ha-nefesh). All of this discussion worked to prepare us for the exercises (paths) that Cooper will introduce in the remainder of this chapter.
This Friday, our group will consider the various paths of the tzaddik that Cooper outlines on pp. 186-234, paths of respect, generosity, lovingkindness, etc.
Our discussion group meets via Zoom every Friday from 12-1 (see the CBI web site or weekly announcements for a Zoom link). All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise or attendance at previous Friday study group sessions. If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at email@example.com .
We expect to complete our study of God is a Verb by Friday, June 16. On Friday, June 23, we’ll be starting a new topic when we explore JEWISH PERSPECTIVES ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT. Judaism has a history of debate over the death penalty but it generally disagrees with the practice. Although the Torah describes over 30 situations where the death penalty would be appropriate, there are many limitations that have made it difficult to implement.
Our exploration is intended to help inform the screening and panel discussion of a film, Racist Roots: Origins of North Carolina’s Death Penalty, which will be sponsored by Congregation Beth Israel on Monday June 26, 2023, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.
Stay tuned to the CBI web site and Weekly Announcements for a link to the Racist Roots film and further information on the Noon Study Group discussions and the June 26th event focusing on issues involving Social Justice and the Death Penalty.
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